The Big C Season 3 Premiere Review: The Unkillables

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Hmm... so will The Big C now go by The Big H, for Heart Attack?

Or perhaps The Big A, for Alexis?

Indeed, the season three premiere answered one pressing questions left over from the season two finale immediately, while setting up a different, unusual dynamic in the Jamison household.

Cathy as Alexis

Paul is alive. He survived his heart attack and seems generally fine health-wise, save for the occasional, accidental Andrea or Thomas-related shock.

I'll be honest: I was hoping he'd die. Not because I dislike Oliver Platt in the role, simply because The Big C could have used a big shake-up. I've always loved Laura Linney and I'll tune in each Sunday night just to watch her performance. But the series as a whole straddles the line between comedy and drama almost too much. It's not entirely sure what it is or where it wants to go.

That same assessment applies to this episode. Not a great deal happened, at least not organically. A lot of exposition was simply laid out for us: Andrea is embracing her African roots; Adam might give prayer a chance; Paul saw the light and has vowed to worry less, enjoy life more; and, in what was meant to be the most jarring development, Cathy has taken on the persona of Alexis Bertrand at a bar, something that's clearly been going on for awhile, given her close relationship to other patrons.

She appears to be selling herself as a widow, meaning this is... what? A coping mechanism she thought up when she feared Paul wouldn't make it? A way for her to bring attention back on herself once she realized Paul's condition would lead to a changing of roles at home?

I'm not sure. I can't say I understand Cathy too well right now. She was certainly sincere in her reaction to the doctor's great news. She does want to live. But she clearly doesn't want to live as Cathy Jamison, not all the time at least.

It seems to be a sudden change, given that we last saw her completing the Minneapolis marathon, (which took place on New Year's Day, right? So just over a month has come by, correct?), seemingly on top of her troubled world. She then collapsed at the thought of Paul dying and... here we are. There's a lot that has to be filled in there.

Why is Cathy living a double life? Does Paul remain out of a job? Just how much time does Cathy have left? I'm - thankfully - unfamiliar with cancer diagnoses, but that seemed like an awfully quick appointment. Living with an ellipse instead of a period is great, but wouldn't Cathy have many more questions surrounding her condition?

Overall, I thought it was a rather boring return. I'm not too invested in Andrea's African adventure, she works best as a side character. We've already seen Sean as a quasi nut job, I'm far more interested in seeing him mature as a possibly future guardian than lie back and live in a frozen home. That just seems silly for him at this point.

There certainly is an interesting future on tap if Cathy really is healing and Paul really is sick. I'd be curious to watch that role reversal. But aside from teasing it, the season three premiere didn't hook me in at all. What about you? Were you surprised to see Paul alive and mostly well? Where do you hope this season heads?


Editor Rating: 3.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (51 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


I thought it was a great episode. This show manages to combine comedy, drama and hope into a delightful package, so for me, not a lot needs to "happen" exactly. The characters on this show are all great - so even though it was a bit of a cheap trick with Oliver Platt's character not dying, I wouldn't want him to leave the show. Besides, they've put something interesting in the mix now: He's died and come back and has seen the light - so now they're both facing death and he's not afraid anymore. I can definitely forgive this show for being just slightly awkward after it recalibrates itself for this new season.


I remember seeing this show advertised and made a mental note to watch it.
Totally forgot about it and then decided to watch it on Netflix. I couldn't
wait to watch each episode, amazing....I am a cancer patient and this show touched me so much, so many levels, death, humour, mental illness. Characters are outstanding.


God Kathy and Theo, if you are so offended stop watching. Do you think you have a god given right to not be offended at something? Sorry about your mom Kathy, but guess what, some people do go into remission with cancer. And Theo, I've been to ghana, and the people are pretty smelly there. Get over it.


I buried my mother who was diagnosed with cancer on Easter Sunday last year and died on Christmas Day. This woman just keeps getting better....I find the whole show offensive. This is NOT what happens to people with terminal cancer. Its terrible and a sad joke.


I take a great offense to baboo insulting women in Ghana and calling them stinky. This is very offensive and I do not know where she went in Ghana, but i just want her to realize that insulting our mothers in Ghana does not make her look better than she is or act better. It is people like her that make other race not to respect the black community both here and Africa. Some Blacks here turns to use disparaging words to describe their elders and women, we from Africa respect our women and we hold them to the highest esteem. So please stop insulting our women and have some self respect. Thanks


I agree that this was a very underwhelming season premiere. A lot of the story lines just felt weird and unnatural. And I too hoped that Paul would die. I like his character but this just felt like a cop out. I did however like the scene between Adam and Cathy when she told him the good news.


I like how they treated this season premiere. There was a balance of everything. Well done to the writers of the show. I'm expecting more in the next few episodes to come.

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